Five facts about sleep you may not know

Statistically, we know that you’re probably not sleeping enough.

Alicia Ang

Strength: Memorising lyrics. Weakness: Having least 144 tabs open at all times.

Published: 16 March 2023, 2:00 PM

Did you know that there’s a World Sleep Day? 

This year it falls on Mar 17 – which, ironically, means you probably can’t sleep in to celebrate since it’s still a working day. 

World Sleep Day started in 2008, with the goal of promoting healthy sleeping habits and bringing awareness to how poor our sleeping habits are as a society. 

With that in mind, here are five facts you should know about sleep the next time you hit the hay.

1. Fewer than one-fifth of Singaporeans have an uninterrupted sleep

We all know you need eight hours of sleep a night – but not many of us actually follow that rule. 

A 2022 study by YouGov showed that only one in four people in Singapore (27 per cent) have an ideal sleep cycle of seven hours or more. The study also revealed that it is most common for Singaporeans to get six to seven hours of sleep a night (39 per cent), followed by four to six hours (32 per cent).

Fewer than one-fifth of all respondents say they sleep through the night (17 per cent). Those who wake up in the middle of the night are most likely to stir between one and three times (72 per cent).

2. You should experience a form of paralysis when you sleep

Some of us may suffer from sleep paralysis – a terrifying phenomenon where you feel awake but cannot move and sometimes cannot even breathe. However there is a different form of paralysis that we are all supposed to undergo during sleep. 

We often have vivid dreams during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep – the fourth stage of sleep. During this stage, your arms and legs lock up in a form of paralysis. This means that when you’re doing physical activity in a dream, you won’t flail around and accidentally hit the wall – or worse, your partner. 

3. Your pain threshold decreases when you’re sleep deprived

A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience confirmed that sleep deprivation affects how we process pain. 

Specifically, the study noted that 80 per cent of subjects reported an increase in pain after pulling an all-nighter, despite being subjected to the same stimuli before and after being sleep deprived. 

This may be the reason why you tend to wake up irritable or with body aches if you’ve slept poorly or not had enough rest the night before. 

4. You can’t sneeze when you’re sleeping

This one might sound false – after all, you might have experienced being woken up by a sneeze. 

However, it is technically true. In order to sneeze, your body needs to enter a state of wakefulness. This means that you can’t sneeze when you’re in deep sleep, though it is possible when you’re in stage one light sleep. 

So if you’ve sneezed yourself awake before, it was likely actually a strong urge that jolted you awake in order for you to sneeze. 

5. There are more benefits to good sleep than just living longer

Though it’s fairly well known that getting adequate sleep seems to be correlated with living longer, sleep has plenty of other benefits. 

The biggest surprise is that getting enough sleep can make you look more attractive. You are less likely to develop wrinkles due to the body developing collagen at night. Your skin also has time to regenerate from damages caused by things like UV light and pollution. All in all, it makes people look happier and healthier. 

You are also more likely to perform better at sports, as good sleep improves speed, accuracy and reaction time. This is especially true for athletes who train regularly, as the body needs more time to recover from strenuous activities. 

Lastly, sleeping well can help you make better decisions, as it enhances complex cognitive skills you need to function. That means that when people say ‘sleep on it’, it’s actually sound advice. 

We hope that these are helpful and that maybe they’ll influence your sleeping decisions. This World Sleep Day, celebrate by sleeping in on Saturday morning. 

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